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The end is near for Grayson

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The Blue Devils’ difficult nondistrict schedule comes to a close tonight when they face Radford.

By Craig Worrell, Sports Editor

INDEPENDENCE -- Radford is Radford. Always has been, most likely always will. Good athletes and a proud tradition can make for a pretty stout football program, even if its current record is 1-3, as the Bobcats are when they host Grayson County tonight in a nondistrict game at Norman Lineburg Field. “Fast,” Blue Devil coach Brett McPherson said. “They’re probably the most athletic team we’ve seen. Defensively I worry about them running around blocks, just running around making plays.” The Bobcats are coming off a tough 20-14 loss to two-time defending Division 2 state champion Gretna. “They shut Gretna down,” McPherson said. “Gretna got some big plays, but I was impressed with their speed. We’ll definitely have our hands full.” The biggest handful will be Radford quarterback Dontae Carter, from whom all things offensive flow for the Bobcats. Of Radford’s 12 touchdowns this year, Carter has either run or thrown for eight of them. He is so dangerous that the Blue Devils may approach his touches as if they were punt returns. “We can’t go for the kill or get upfield, we’ve almost got to put up a shield on the line of scrimmage,” McPherson said, “just break down, move laterally, not give him space to operate. If you run upfield he’ll go underneath you. If you try to get a kill shot on him he’ll sidestep you. If you don’t keep good outside leverage he’ll run around you. We’re going to bring a few more people up and try to keep everything in front.” McPherson said giving Carter three to five yards on any given carry would be acceptable. “They haven’t shown a real propensity to drive the football,” he said. “Everything’s big plays and quick scores. I’ve yet to see them make a disciplined eight- or 10- or 12-play drive. I’d like to make them do that.” It’s entirely possible. The Blue Devils limited Carroll County to six points before a kickoff return late in the third quarter went for a score, opening up a 19-point floodgate in Grayson’s 25-6 loss last week. It was  another late-game mistake that has thus far defined Grayson’s 0-5 start to the year. Mistakes like that are magnified late in a tight game. “Just one play where we take a play off,” McPherson said. “I felt like on the kickoff, we just had three or four people who took a break. A couple of minutes to go in the third quarter, 6-6 football game, I really thought they were going to have a difficult time driving the ball on us. We’ve had great kick coverage all year long, and durn if we don’t just let them take it back. That really took the air out of our sails.” Grayson had its most impressive scoring drive of the year against the Cavaliers, marching nearly half the field in about 4 minutes, 30 seconds to tie it at 6-all. “That’s the longest all year for us,” said McPherson. “We made some progress running the ball, but still, there were too many mistakes.” To their credit, the Blue Devils are giving the effort, and are hurting after each loss. “They’ve got a lot to overcome,” McPherson said. “To continue to come up short, then come back and fight through it again, they’ve done that. We’d like to get a lead one time. I think if we had gotten that two-point conversion [at Carroll] and stopped the kickoff, I believe they’d have had a tough time scoring. We were tightening down, the rain was starting, who knows what would have happened. “When you invest in practice and you play hard, it hurts. The fear is that they won’t play hard, because they may feel that if they play hard and we lose, it’ll hurt too much. When you lay it all on the line, it’ll hurt.” The game has to be the one of the most intriguing match-ups in a long time between two schools with a combined 1-8 record. Grayson has been within a touchdown of tying or taking the lead late in the game in all five of its losses, while Radford dropped a tough opener to Pulaski County 19-7, led George Wythe 19-0 in a 21-19 loss and played Gretna tight last week. One thing that may fall in the Blue Devils’ favor is that Grayson is a sandwich game for the Bobcats, who played a two-time defending state champion last week and have a much-anticipated Three Rivers District opener against 5-0 EastMont next week. “But with them being 1-3, they may be a little more focused than that,” said McPherson. “I just want to go down there and get in a dogfight.”   WEEK 6 Grayson County (0-5) at Radford (1-3) Friday, 7:30 at Norman Lineburg Field   Last week Grayson County lost at Carroll County 25-6 Radford lost at Gretna 20-14 Last meeting 2008 (Radford won 42-0) Last Grayson County win 2007 (38-25) Common opponents None to date   The series 1994–Radford 28-0 1995–Radford 39-6 1996–Radford 46-21 1997–Radford 51-0 1997– #Radford 28-7 1998–Grayson Co. 7-0 1999–Radford 49-0 2000–Radford 27-6 2001–Radford 39-14 2002–Radford 38-6 2007–Grayson Co. 38-25 2008–Radford 42-0 #-Region C playoffs   Overall Radford leads 10-2   The season  Grayson County                   Radford L at Alleghany 21-20    8/28    L to Pulaski Co. 19-7 L to Chilhowie 32-20    9/4     Open L to R.Retreat 14-6       9/11    L to G.Wythe 21-19 L to Glenvar 7-0           9/18    D Galax 42-0 L to Carroll Co. 25-6    9/25    L to Gretna 20-14 at Radford                    10/2    Grayson County Galax                           10/9     E.Montgomery Open                            10/16   at Floyd County at Bland County           10/23   at Glenvar Narrows                      10/30    Auburn

Fort Chiswell              11/6     Giles